Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The "Block" is a Deadly Thing

The past few days I have had an uncharacteristic case of Writer’s Block. It does not happen often but it does happen sometimes. I usually sit and wait it out, take a break from writing and whatnot. But, my newfound promise to myself to write 1-2 hours a day NO MATTER WHAT has made it impossible for me to wait out this BLOCK.

So I aimed to consult the experts.

One expert that comes to mind, as always, is one of my personal heroes, Ray Bradbury. I have taken much of his advice on writing to heart, including his main rule of, “If you want to be a writer, then write.” I have seen him speak a few times and always forget to ask him this important question. What do you do when you are blocked for ideas?

Michael Stipe once got very very blocked. So he traveled and during this album, where he was so blocked, they ended up recording it in a few different places because of his blockage. However, as always, and maybe because of the traveling and seeing new places, he got rid of it. BUT I am not traveling anytime in the next month so....there goes that solution.

So the next personal writing hero…Kevin Smith. Kevin’s style, though not liked by some, is an inspiration to me. Not only can he write amazing dialogue but also he never never never stops writing. When he is not writing a movie, he is writing a book. When he not writing a book he is updating his blog. He blogs all the time. He writes all the time and not once have I ever seen him take much of a break. I did not get to personally ask him the question of what he does when he has writers block. However, on a DVD of his he addresses this subject.
In short, Kevin said he has never had much of a problem with writer’s block and when he does he just “rubs one out” and it is over.

So is that what I am supposed to do?

Is the answer to many writers’ frustrations simply to “rub one out”?

I can’t imagine myself in a meeting with my future boss when he asks me how my “front page feature” is coming along (This is my fantasy I get front page) and I answer,

“Well boss, I am kind of stuck right now. I am going to go to the bathroom with my Jack Rabbit vibrator here and I will see what I can come up with.”

Yeah I can imagine that solution might not be worker appropriate.

So I ask all of you out there, and those of you that are writers…how do you get rid of “The Block.”

Enlighten me.


Twisted DNA said...

Well, writng about the block seems to be a good way to get around the block!

I made myself a rule that I blog at least 2 times a week. If I don't have anything to write, I sit in front of the computer and I think... think and think utnil I got something to write.

Some times I have to settle for less than satisfactory post but, as you said, if I want to be a writer I have to write!

-J said...

I've been spending this week, and most of last, trying to figure that out as well. I was hoping seeing Clerks 2 would get my creative juices flowing, but I still go nothin'. I was actually thinking of blogging about my man crush on Kevin Smith, but I think I already did once before. Besides, you sort of already did and now I'd be plagiarizing. However, you did leave me with a nice visual.

Mr. Burns said...


Not sure if when you speak of "the block" you're talking about being unable to write anything period or if you're talking about not being able to write anything "good." If it's the latter, don't sweat it, it's all about what you put down. The rest will come. It's the fact that you've simply written.

Now, if you can't write at all, then simply describe something that's already there in the most descriptive language possible. Something outside, the clouds, the sunset, the scent of your house name it. Maybe you can't post it up to blogger immediately, but tuck it away, hold onto it, and it may fit one day.

Lastly (shit I know this is long), one to two hours is a lot to start with if you haven't been writing every day previously. Maybe ease into it?

That may be off base, but it usually works for me.

Anonymous said...

I don't write for a living, so when I'm blocked I just don't write. :) It's been about 4 yrs since I've written any poetry to speak of, except the few occasions when I've free associated to live music.

I often find that free associating (writing without thinking or pre-editing) is the best way for me to get things going on any topic.

Mike Stickel said...

Well, not being a writer but having aspired to be one many times before, all I can say is... shit, I have no idea how to get around "the block".

mr. burns made a good point though, what do you mean by "block"? Knowing that would definitely help tailor an answer.

Of course, the obvious solution is always just the simple answer of actually writing — whether it's about nothing or something doesn't matter, just, as Nike would say, do it.

I disagree about the Kevin Smith style not working for you in your fantasy. You don't really have to tell them what you're doing but you can say you'll be back in an hour or two (or whatever) with a great idea. The rumours will definitely start flying when people overhear what you're doing in the bathroom though ;^)

Rachel Heather said...

DNA - H! Thanks for coming :) So just sit in front of the computer is your solution? I can try that! Like pretend and go through the motions and fake it until words actually start coming out?

J - glad I could help :) If you blog about your man crush on Kevin I will tell you about my massive speechless admiration for Joss Whedon and when I actually had the chance to say something cool to him this past weekend at comic con all that came out of my mouth was "Smile for the camera"! :(

Mr. Burns - well I hacve been writing alot previously, I just didn't have a set schedule. Sometimes i would write for 10 minutes and sometimes for hours and hours. I don't post about 80% of what I write. Most goes into a file on my computer of just random beginnings of stories I might go back to, feature type stories to practice, charactor sketches for my books, quotes I hear people say, and free flow. Right now I am more blocked about writing good stuff

anon - yeah free associating is a great great thing. That seems to always work for me when I am blocked about writing at all.

Rachel Heather said...

Mike - yeah it is more about writing something good. When I was a dancer sometimes I would have what was called an "off day". My turns would be sloightly off balance. My leaps not as high, etc. I could still dance but was not up to par. That is what this block is about

Damn - I might just have to try Kevins Smiths idea


Scott said...

Yeah I think rubbing one out really is the best way...hahaha. Really though, I don't know. I think that it hits everyone from time to time. A great thing to do is to keep a journal of ideas for different things and when you are feeeling stuck pull it out and go through it. you can mine all kinds of things from it.



Mr. Burns said...

Miss Rach-

If you are worried about writing good stuff, I'd suggest revisiting some of the 80% of the material you haven't published, the stuff sitting on your hard drive.

There is no doubt in my mind that you have good stuff there, it just might need to be re-shaped and/or fused together. Give'r a try.

-J said...

Actually, Rachel, as it turns out, I already did blog about said man crush.
So ... I'm all ears.

CP said...

Sounds like the Jack Rabbit enlightens you pretty well but...

on a separate note...I think you nailed it in your own writing when you said, "When he is not writing a movie, he is writing a book. When he not writing a book he is updating his blog.".

Perhaps if you emmerse yourself in many projects you'll come back to them with new insight, having had to shift focus on another project. Don't overwhelm yourself, but see how far you can spread yourself and still stay focused for the short period of time that you need to. We got faith in ya!


Mike Stickel said...

Rachel: I completely understand what you mean about the "off day" in regards to sports. Been there, done that ;^)

Keeping with the dancing analogy, what did you do to bounce back from the off days? Did you refocus and train harder? Did you just go with it and have fun? Either way it came back though, right?

Maybe you're just looking into your writing with the wrong mindset. If all the pieces you're writing have a serious tone and/or are very intelectual pieces, why not switch it up and bust out a humour story. Change things up a bit. Get out of the groove and go with it. Change your attitude. Ok, enough short sentences, time to go.

Let me know how the Smith method works out for you. If it helps I may have to try it out next time I get designers or programmers block. ;^)

deepsat said...

yeah rach!! what you said is quite true. i am also familiar with the block! typically what i attempt (and have been successful so far) is to complete some of the previous ideas or refine them a little more! guess it helps!

Keshi said...

**“Well boss, I am kind of stuck right now. I am going to go to the bathroom with my Jack Rabbit vibrator here and I will see what I can come up with.”


Well it happens Rach. Right now Im trying to block a block too...mmm lets see what happens.

Good luck sweety!

Thomas said...

Maybe you should email and we can discuss this problem, Rachel.

twobuyfour said...

RK - I think you have received some very good advice here. Not just that getting Kevin Smith off keeps your "creative juices" flowing, but the idea that the more you write the easier it is.

I'm not a professional writer, but what I do is try to write as often as I can. But I try to only post a blog once a week. That way when I can't think of anything good, or I review what I've written and it's crap I can pull out something I've previously written but not posted.

Ray Bradbury, huh? When I was a kid I ate up everything he wrote, along with Arthur C. Clark. Isaac Asimov was my favorite though. Now HE was prolific! One thing that inspired me the most about him was his style. He always wrote as if he were having a conversation with the reader - in his own rhythm. It always seemed so personal and understandable whether he was writing about physics or astronomy or chemestry or fiction. I loved that.